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What It’s Like: The Umbrella of “Body Positivity” Does Not Cover Me

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Dear “Body Positivity Movement,”

You’re considered one of the greatest accomplishments of the twenty-first century. No longer shall women have to crumble under the judgmental gazes of those who want to bang a Barbie! No longer shall little girls fear going misrepresented, for the doll industry has begun to release dolls with slightly less unrealistic standards for the female anatomy. It’s paradise now!

But it really isn’t. 

You see, the body positivity movement still presents a heavy bias to those who are perfectly imperfect. It’s all right to be “curvy,” but it still isn’t acceptable to be fat or have fat in places that don’t work you towards the coveted hourglass figure. It’s all right to be thin, but not so thin that you have no figure. It’s perfectly fine to be tall, but only if you look like a goddess. It’s great to be short, but please don’t look like a little kid. 

Image source: Pixabay

I knew that my body type was undesirable as far back as the age of 3. I went to my family doctor who turned to my mother and bluntly said, “She’s getting a little fat.” I shouldn’t have known that this was negative, but I did. I shouldn’t have let it start defining my worth, but it began a never-ending cycle of self-loathing. 

I knew that it wasn’t going to get better by the time I was 12. I was already 5’8″, and I was going to hit 5’9″ within the next year. Kids are mean. They start calling you “Godzilla” or whatever makes them feel better than you that day, even though you already thought they were better than you, anyways.

I wasn’t slim, but I certainly wasn’t curvy. No. I had been taught my whole childhood that curvy could be good. If you have a butt and a set of tits, then you can still pull yourself up by the bootstraps and elbow your way through the raging sea that is societal expectations.

That was not my case, though. I was just plump, and not in a particular place. I was tall and plump. 

My femininity was put on the chopping block immediately. 

Suddenly, there’s a need to justify yourself and cover up. There’s a need to clad yourself in as many pinks and pastels as you can get your hands on to let them know that you are still somehow a woman, in the midst of the hand of cards that you have been dealt. You’ll never be the ideal woman, though. You’re always going to be flawed. 

When I look in the mirror every morning, I see it all. I’m too tall, too soft, too big, too tired, too hairy on the arms, too thick around the neck, too big in the shoe size, and too wrong. It becomes impossible to imagine that someone could accept or love you. It becomes a chore to see yourself as what society wants a woman to be. 

Brands claim body positivity when they feature a model with bigger breasts or a bigger set of thighs, but it’s still this standard of being perfect in the places that count. They want to be praised for showing a model that has two stretch marks on her hips from when she grew back in middle school. They want a medal when a model flaunts her toned, yet soft, midsection. 

Yes, these are all steps in the right direction. Yes, it is great to see people who were ignored by the fashion industry for decades be featured by major brands. Yes, yes, yes. You are doing amazing… but your work is not complete. Your now complete picture is still a crop of a much larger picture. 

I have never looked at the media and seen myself. I have never watched a film or show and identified with a character. The words in my head are always, “If you were just thinner… then you could be like her,” or “If you were simply a little shorter, you could be just like that.” The world paints you this image of what you ought to want, even when you can never have it. I bury myself in the corner and choose to stay there, but that cannot do anymore.

Here’s to those who are not represented by the current movement of body positivity. May we pave new paths, may we embrace what we are, and may we, despite the lack of evidence in our favor, understand that we too are women who deserve to feel proud of what we are. 

Cover photo source: Garon Piceli

Last named pronounced like "zucchini," a common summertime squash. University of California, Davis. English major and literature fiend. Proud member of Delta Delta Delta. Theatre kid. Standup comedienne.
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